Amphibians and Reptiles of Long Island,
Staten Island and Manhattan

Regional Frogs

1. Spring Peeper - Acris crucifer
Description: 12/16 -1 5/16" (1.9-3.4 cm). Tan/brown coloration. There is often a characteristic "X" shape across the back.

Similar species in our area: May look similar to the Northern Cricket Frog (Acris crepitans) and Upland Chorus Frog (Pseudacris triseriata) which are now both thought to be extinct throughout our area.

Lifestyle: A common frog found throughout the area, usually in or around wooded areas with permanent or temporary bodies of water, although not fully restricted to forests. This species can tolerate somewhat urbanized areas, and has recently been re-intoduced into Central Park.  It is one of the first species to start calling in the spring and can even be heard on warmer winter nights.  It's voice is a distinctive "peep-peep".   It mates from early March to late May. Gelatinous eggs laid in water. Young emerge June through August Voice is a high pitched whistle. This species is mostly nocturnal.

2. Northern Gray Treefrog - Hyla versicolor
Description: 1 ¼ - 2 3/16" (3.2-5.6 cm). Color gray or green. Rough warty skin. Distinct light spot can be found below eye. Bright orange color can be found on inside of hind legs. This species also has very large toe pads used for climbing.

Similar species in our area: NONE, although this species is nearly identical to the Cope's Gray Treefrog (H. chrysoscelis) and is only different in it’s call and genetic makeup. Our native species (H. versicolor) is often misidentified as the other (H. chrysoscelis ).

Lifestyle: A fairly common found frog locally on Long Island. It is uncommon or may be extinct elsewhere in our area. Usually lives in wooded areas with water , up in tree canopy, and therefore they are not commonly seen. Can be seen by waters edge only during breeding, which occurs between April and August in our area. Gelatinous eggs laid in water. Tadpoles emerge late June to September. Mature tadpoles sometimes have bright red tails. Voice is a slow "trill" sound. This species is nocturnal.

3. Bullfrog - Rana catesbeiana
Description: 3 ½ - 8" (9-20 cm). The largest frog in North America. Color is light to dark shades of green, often with mottled brownish spots. Belly is creamy white. Large external tympanum. Hind feet completely webbed except for the last joint of the longest toe.

Similar species in our area: The Green Frog (R. clamitans ) is smaller but often looks similar.

Lifestyle: A very common frog throughout our area, and the largest frog found in North America.  Found throughout many different freshwater habitats. Commonly seen in the water, and this species can tolerate urbanized areas fairly well. This species mates between May and late July in our area. Gelatinous egg masses laid on the surface of water. Tadpoles emerge late summer, early fall. They are very large, olive green, and take a minimum of 2 years to transform into frogs. Voice is a low, vibrant bass sound similar to the pluck of a banjo string.  Calling in the spring is mostly at night as males try to attract mates, but in the summer males call even in the daytime to announce territorial boundaries.

4Green Frog - Rana clamitans melanota
Description: 2 3/16 - 4" (5.5-10 cm). Variable color from green to brown, sometimes has brown blotches or spots. White cream colored belly. Males have yellow throats. This species has large external tympanum and distinct "dorsolateral ridges" that run from the head down through the body.

Similar species in our area: The Bullfrog (R. catesbeiana ) is larger but may look similar. Also similar to the Southern Leopard Frog (R. sphenocephala utricularius).

Lifestyle: A very common frog throughout our area. Found throughout many different freshwater habitats. Commonly seen in the water. This species can tolerate urbanized areas fairly well. Breeds from May to July. Females attach 3-4 small gelatinous egg masses to submerged vegetation. Metamorphs emerge late summer to early fall. Large olive green tadpoles may overwinter twice before transforming.  Adults eat many items including small animals such as other frogs, baby birds and small rodents such as mice.  Voice is often said to sound like a "loose guitar string", loud and sometimes repeated several times.  If disturbed it jumps rapidly into the water while making a single deep "chung" sound.   This species is considered to be nocturnal but can often be found fully active during the day.

5.  Wood Frog - Rana sylvatica
Description: 1 ½ - 3 1/8" (3.5-8 cm). Color varies from tan to pink. Defining feature of this species is the dark mask behind the eye that ends behind the tympanum. They also possess dorsolateral ridges from the eye to the anus. White belly. Toes are not fully webbed. Males possess swollen thumbs.

Similar species in our area: NONE

Lifestyle: This species is fairly common in localized areas on L.I. and is uncommon or may be extinct in the other parts of our area. It prefers forests and wooded areas. They need water for breeding, but after will often travel appreciable distances away from water, deep into forests. One of the earliest mating species in our area, breeding adults converge in huge masses and breed explosively between late February and mid April. Communal egg masses are laid in vernal ponds. Tadpoles emerge early April to Late May. Voice sounds like the quacking sounds of a duck. Diurnal.

6.  Southern Leopard Frog - Rana sphenocephala utricularius
Description: 2 - 4 5/16" (5.1-11 cm). Color varies from brown to green. Many dark "leopard-like" spots on dorsal surface. White spot in the center of the tympanum.

Similar species in our area: Can be confused with the smaller Pickerel Frog (R. palustris) in our area, but has circular spots, not square. Also may look like the Green Frog (R. clamitans ).

Lifestyle: This is listed as a "Species of Special Concern" by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and is becoming exceedingly rare on L.I. and is probably extinct in the rest of our area. This is appear to be due to the fact that they do not survive well in developed areas. They prefer open, wet, grassy habitats.  In the summer they may wander far from standing water, but only into moist areas. Mates from early March to late April. Gelatinous egg masses attached to submerged vegetation. Voice is a pulsing chuckle or croak.  Nocturnal, although they can often be seen during the day.  ANY SIGHTINGS OF THIS SPECIES SHOULD BE REPORTED TO THE NEW YORK STATE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION.

7.  Pickerel Frog - Rana palustris
Description: 1 ¾ - 3 ¼" (4.4-8.2 cm). Usually brown. This species has two rows of spots down back. The spots are square shaped, not circular. They also have distinctive yellow and orange coloration behind legs. This may extend onto the white belly. White line down dorsolateral ridge. This species is also very distasteful to predators.

Similar species in our area: Looks similar to the Southern Leopard Frog (R. utriculata) in our area, but has square spots, not circular

Lifestyle: This species though not very common in our area, may be locally abundant throughout certain parts of our area. It favors habitats in or very close to water near dense herbaceous vegetation. Breeds April through May. Gelatinous egg mass attached to submerged vegetation. Metamorphs emerge by mid summer, and transform to adults by late summer early fall. Voice is a steady low pitched croak. This species is nocturnal although it can be found during the day.


8.  Fowler’s Toad - Bufo fowleri
Description: 2 - 3 1/8" (5.1-8 cm). This toad has warty skin. Color varies from gray to almost red in our area. Can be identified by a large gland above the eye called the paratoid gland. In this species it touches the cranial ridge behind the eye. Unspotted belly. Large dark patches on dorsal surface have three or more warts contained on them

Similar species in our area: Very similar to the American Toad (B. americanus). Paratoid not connected to cranial ridge, and different mating call than Fowler’s Toad.

Lifestyle: This is a fairly common inhabitant of our area although numbers have reportedly decreased in recent years even in preserved locations like the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. They like sandy, well drained habitats. Found in both wooded and poorly wooded areas. Mates from May to August. Gelatinous eggs laid in strings which are attached to submerged vegetation. Metamorphs emerge July and August. Voice is a nasal "w-a-a-h" sound for 1 to 4 seconds. Nocturnal although seen active during the day.


9.  Eastern Spadefoot Toad - Scaphiopus holbrookii holbrookii
Description: 1 ¾ - 3" (4.4-7.5 cm). Sickle-shaped spade on each hind foot used for digging. Smooth skin with only a few warts. Brown to olive color. Often has two golden-white stripes along it’s back form a lyre shaped pattern. Belly is white or gray. Large golden eyes with distinct vertical pupils.

Similar species in our area: NONE

Lifestyle: Not commonly seen in our area, partially due to a very secretive lifestyle. It was once found throughout many parts of our area, but now there are only scattered populations on  L.I. Lives in well drained and arid, sandy or gravely areas such as the Pine Barrens or coastal sandy areas. They are often found in shallow burrows to avoid the harsh dry climates of their habitat. This species breeds explosively during heavy rains from April through August. Gelatinous eggs are laid in bands attached to submerged vegetation. Eggs sometimes hatch within two days. Transform into toads in 2 - 7 weeks. Voice is a loud, terse grunt that is low pitched and short. It is said to sound like a young crow. Nocturnal. ANY SIGHTINGS OF THIS SPECIES SHOULD BE REPORTED TO THE NEW YORK STATE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION.